Australian chef Sarah Todd has become a household name in India, we caught up with the chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and model for an exclusive tete-a-tete.
Some of you may know Sarah Todd as the contestant of MasterChef Australia season 6, some may know her as the co-owner of Antares, Goa. Some may also recall her from her TV shows and the many cookbooks she has written in her short career. Irrespective of where you put up in India, if you are even remotely into gourmet cuisine you are probably, already, an admirer of the 33-year-old chef. The Australian chef became a household name in India, after she cooked ‘Aloo Gobhi’ for one of her tasks at MasterChef. The celebrity chef keeps collaborating with Indian brands, restaurants and foodies in general from time to time. Her recent association with PVR Popmagic is one fine example. PVR Cinemas launched their range of popcorns on Amazon earlier in July, now cinegoers can enjoy their favourite PVR popcorns at home, while watching their favourite movie or show on their homescreens.
We caught up with the celebrity chef who spoke about her comfort food, lockdown inspirations, her son’s new found love for cooking and more in this exclusive chat.
1. Tell us about your association with PVR popcorn
I have been engaged with PVR to deliver healthy, carefully balanced menu with the freshest and most wholesome ingredients for an in-cinema fine dining experience. The association regarding the popcorn has been in progress for some time now. It has been an exciting experience to experiment with popcorn flavours and make it available for our consumers beyond cinemas so that they can now get the same experience at home. I recently curated four flavours of Popmagic, microwave popcorn namely - Cinema Butter, Lightly Salted, Mexican Cheese and Lemon Pepper - under the theme ‘World of Flavours’ best suited for the Indian audience. I am in talks with PVR to introduce more exciting new flavours keeping regional preferences in mind to cater to a wider set of audiences going forward.
2. And the flavour that is your favourite?
That’s a tough one because I like simple flavours of just citrus and pepper but I also love the Mexican Cheese so it really depends on how much flavour you are craving.
3. What does Sarah Todd munch on while watching her favourite movies or shows?
There is always popcorn in my house. The moment we start watching a movie there is popcorn popping away in the background.
4. Ideas for the quickest munchies we can prepare for a movie night with family and friends?
I always love loaded nachos. I feel like it’s a real showstopper that you can put in the centre of the table with guacamole, sour cream cheese and some salsa. Before adding any toppings, I always throw it into the oven with some cheese so that it’s nicely warm and oozy.
5. Now that travel is limited, is it tough to stay inspired as a chef?
I find inspiration in the craziest of situations. I have been very creative throughout the lockdown and I have been doing series on my Instagram every Sunday fortnight wherein I invite a celebrity and have a conversation on their favourite travel story along with their favourite travel eats. I think one can always find inspiration.
6. Your biggest lesson or takeaway as a chef during the lockdown?
Keep things simple. I’m currently home-schooling, working around the clock with work commitments in India and in Australia, doing television shows, writing cookbooks and creating brand so I am fairly occupied. My main priority is to make nourishing meals for my son and I try to keep a positive mindset and energy. So quick, simple and tasty meals is the key.
7. You are currently busy setting up your pop-up restaurant in Melbourne (Crown Melbourne). A big part of the menu would be Indian, your top 5 picks from the menu would be?
Unfortunately, due to the lockdown this has been postponed to later in the year. The menu is a culmination of all my travel experiences across India bringing that back to Australia and highlighting Australian produce. So, you’ll see things from Laal Maas with Australian lamb to a dessert inspired by Faluda which is one I’m very excited about, it has all the elements of the latter but presented in a very fine dining way.
8. The toughest and the easiest Indian dishes to make according to you.
Like anything I feel practice makes one perfect. For me, I can definitely make a lot of roti and paratha because they’re the dishes I make frequently. But if you ask me to make a dosa I would never be able to get it to the level that I love.
9. A therapeutic lockdown trend you discovered.
I like to get out of the house and go for a walk daily. It takes my thoughts away from the news and social media and it really relaxes me.
10. Now that the world is slowly opening up, what are the top 5 places you cannot wait to go to?
As soon as I land back in India, I will definitely be heading to Mahesh lunch home for a butter garlic crab in Mumbai. I’ll be going to Vinayak In Goa for a fish Thali. Of course, Antares in Goa for sunset cocktails and share plates. To get that high end fix I’ll be going to Indian Accent. Then I’ll spend an entire day going around to all my favourite street food stalls and tasting everything.
11. Is your son into cooking? Talk about the time when he impressed you the most in kitchen.
He is now, more than ever, getting into cooking which I love. It has become a daily routine for us because home-schooling is happening so it’s a really great treat for us to break up the day. Phoenix made Koki bhaji from scratch and I was completely blown away with how tasty it was.
12. The quickest recipe you like to whip up before watching a film.
My version of the Indian street food Bhelpuri, a refreshing snack that tingles all the taste buds. It’s flavorsome, easy to digest and vegan too!
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and drizzle tamarind chutney and Sriracha to taste. Sprinkle chaat masala, a squeeze of lime juice and lightly toss until thoroughly mixed. Lastly, fold in chopped herbs.